As villages go on Goeree-Overflakkee, Stellendam is the new kid on the island. Nothing is older than some 234 years old. Approach it from landside and the white-painted Korenlust windmill will be your beacon. From the water, you’ll sail into the Deltahaven.
The polder home of Stellendam was only closed off in the mid-18th century. Before then, there was an island known as Zomerland. The first building on Stellendam is now the brasserie ‘t Wapen van Stellendam.
The struggle with water has been long and hard: in the 19th century, the village was flooded three times. The 1953 flood disaster was harsh, destroying much of the village and snatching the lives of more than 50 inhabitants.
Stellendam has always been a fishing village, even though it seldom brought riches. In its early days, earnings from sturgeon were sometimes providential, as were the occasional sessions of shrimp peeling – now long forbidden as a cottage industry at home. Times change, and the village fishing fleet in the Deltahaven has been joined by those of nearby Ouddorp and Goedereede. The focus today is on flatfish and shrimps.
Friday – we say ‘vrijdag is visdag’ – is the best day to be down on the fish quay in Stellendam, You’ll see the catches landed, sorted and auctioned. You can book a guided tour at the VVV Inspiration Point. Early start, mind.
Before the iconic Korenlust grain windmill was built in 1856, the site was occupied by another mill. Destroyed by a massive gale, it bequeathed some parts to the Korenlust. That was a thriving business until 1961. You can visit it on Saturdays, and by arrangement.
On the road north out, there’s a seal sanctuary called ‘A Seal’ – a Dutch play on words, using the word ‘asiel’, which means sanctuary or asylum. You can visit every day (and even do volunteer work). It’s run by a non-profit foundation. They offer poorly seals a space for recovery, and release them back into nature a.s.a.p. on the beaches of Ouddorp or Renesse. That release schedule is here: www.aseal.nl.
The Scheelhoek nature reserve, much coveted by birds, is just outside Stellendam, between the Zuiderdiep and Haringvliet. In total, it comprises 343 hectares of the Scheelhoekbos woods, and the wondrous wetlands of the Plaat van Scheelhoek with creeks and reed beds.